If you want almost everything the 7 series has, for roughly half the price, the 5 series is the one for you. It is busting with technology like never before and part of it has to be fierce competition in this segment. With new entrants like the Volvo S90, Jaguar XF bringing a new set of talents to the table, it is important to play your strengths. Mercedes E class decided to play its long wheelbase trumpcard, BMW has chosen to do what it does best – being the best driver’s car and loading it to the gills with tech.
This is the seventh generation of the 5 series and is officially known as the G30. The previous generation car, the F10 saw a switch from the hardcore driver’s car the E60 was, to a more comfortable motorway cruiser. With more focus on ride quality, it wasn’t the sharpest BMW to drive, but it was still better than most of its rivals. With the new one, BMW has once again put fun in the driving seat. It is more aerodynamic with a Cd of 0.22 while being 36mm larger, 6mm wider and a tad taller than before. It is also about a 100kgs lighter than before, making use of more high strength steel and aluminium. It doesn’t get the Carbon core of the 7 series, although similar architecture is employed in its construction. BMW also provides a space saver in the boot, but this means an extra padding on the floor which reduces its volume to just 400 litres.
The styling is modern and the theme is very similar to that of the 7 series. The elongated headlamps stretch to meet the grille like most BMWs of this era. The grilles have louvers in them that open only when needed to improve aerodynamic efficiency. The bonnet stretches a long way to the windshield, but the passenger cabin now stretches further into the bootlid making it look smaller than it actually is. The way it hides its visual mass is impressive. The version we tested had the M Sport package with more aggressive front bumper, black accents and 18 inch wheels and you have to say it looks way better than the regular 5 series.
It doesn’t have the same vault-like feel when you close these aluminium doors, but the interiors are a vast improvement over the previous gen F10. The material quality is more 7 series than ever with stitched leather trim, the touch screen HVAC controls and ambient lighting lifting the moods. The overall ambience is one that belongs to a segment above. The seats are sporty in design, yet have strips of quilted leather combining luxury and sportiness. The front seats are huge and come with lots of adjustments.
The rear seat is a bit upright than earlier, but with good legroom, a higher hip point and adequate headroom, it is quite comfortable too. The car is a tech-fest with most features borrowed from the bigger 7 series. You get gesture control, four zone climate control, powered steering adjust, heads-up display, powered seats at the front, sunroof etc. It even has an induction charging base in the centre console where you can wirelessly charge your mobile phone or the display key. The display key lets you pre-cool the car, secure it, see vital parameters such as range. It can even start and remote park your car from outside if it is a tight spot, by moving it backwards and forwards.
The three litre straight six B57 engine in the 530d is a masterpiece. It puts out 265bhp and 620Nm via an 8 speed ZF gearbox. Even more impressive than the headline figures is the refinement of this engine. It hums smoothly like a turbine and when you rev it higher, it runs even smoother. It is properly fast propelling the car from 0-100kmph in 5.81 seconds. That is almost sportscar level of performance in a big family saloon that sips diesel. The 530d comes with launch control too, which makes it even faster than normal. Whether it is pottering in the city, driving fast or cruising, you can leave it to the brilliant gearbox to deliver the right gear at the right revs every single time. You can put it in Eco or Comfort mode to dull the throttle responses a bit, or pick Sport and Sport Plus for snappier throttle and more revs in each gear. The new 530d is also more fuel efficient, thanks to improved aerodynamics, better engines and less weight. It was delivering between 10-14kmpl in our tests, which is over 20 percent better than that of the old 530d.
The steering is the right diameter but the rim is a bit too thick in the 530d. On sheer steering feel, it can’t quite match that of the new Jaguar XF or that of its predecessor, the E60 but it weighs up nicely. The initial impressions when you drive the car are that of a luxury saloon, but as you go faster, the 5 series feels very alive and playful. It grips rather well, yet the tail is ready to step out any time you want. The best part for me was that it feels small and light when you drive it, something you couldn’t say about the earlier generation. Dynamic dampers are now standard across the range and they let you have a luxury sedan at one moment and a sports saloon the next. The ride quality is fantastic, even in the sportiest setting. You do get mild thuds from the deepest potholes, but it still has the best ride and handling balance in its class. The car we drove has rather low profile tyres on 18 inch rims, and you can even get 19 and 20 inch rims as options. The brakes are fantastic and stop the car rather well.
Without having to do a head to head comparison, we can very well say this is the best car in its class. It is a stellar improvement over the outgoing model and one that appeals to both the head and heart. It has the comfort, the quality, the performance, the handling, the ride quality and long list of equipments. Yes the long wheelbase E class gives you a better rear seat experience, but for everything else you can’t ask for something better.